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December 23, 2012 @ 9:12 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Offensive Game Grades vs. St. Louis

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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What grade did Josh Freeman earn in Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Rams? How did the other offensive units fare? Find out in this weekly postgame feature from Pewter Report.
Pewter Report's Mark Cook offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's offense played against St. Louis in the Bucs' 28-13 loss to the Rams, and dishes out the game grades for each offensive unit.


Josh Freeman’s recent slide has been a major talking point for many Bucs fans recently, and while those still optimistic hoped last week’s four-interception game was just as aberration, two games in a row with four picks signals some serious issues. That’s not to say it isn’t correctable, but for now Freeman’s play – and future – bears some significant discussion.

The start of Sunday’s game went just as the pregame script was drawn up. 15 plays, 9:38 and three points, was nearly everything offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Freeman could have expected. Sure you would have liked to have seen seven points instead of three, but on the opening drive Freeman was 5-of-6 for 52 yards.

But as we have seen all too often this season, the wheels soon came off. On Tampa Bay’s second drive, a pass thrown to Mike Williams – who slipped – was intercepted and returned 41 yards for a touchdown. Even had Williams not slipped, the pass was still somewhat ill-advised and a bit lazy with terrible mechanics and footwork.

At time on Sunday Freeman looked like the same quarterback who led the entire league earlier this season in yardage and quarterback rating. Then other times he looked like last week’s confused and lacking-confidence quarterback that threw four picks and numerous errant balls in the 41-0 loss at New Orleans.

So exactly which QB is Josh Freeman? Probably somewhere in between the two. But until Freeman regains some confidence and improves his overall accuracy and consistency, the Buccaneers offense will continue to struggle.

As frustrating as Freeman has been in 2012, the Bucs signal caller has already set the franchise record for passing yards in a season with 3,843 yards and is now tied with Brad Johnson for TDs in a season (26) and with Vinny Testaverde for all-time TD passes (77).

On the afternoon Freeman finished 30-of-54 for 372 yards with one TD and four interceptions.

Defensive coordinators in the NFL are pretty darn smart. After seeing Martin’s record-setting pace midway through the season, opposing coordinators have decided to gamble and focus on stopping Martin, and taking a chance that Freeman can’t beat them with his arm alone. So far – or at least through the last five games – it has worked out well.

Sunday was similar to what we have seen over the last five weeks (the Philadelphia game excluded), with teams bringing an additional defender in the box on obvious running downs and bottling up Martin.

Martin averaged just 3.4 yards a carry Sunday, and finished with 62 yards on 18 carries. Martin did add seven receptions for 57 yards to notch another 100 total yard game but there was no big game-changing run or reception from the Muscle Hamster on Sunday.

LeGarrette Blount and D.J. Ware both were not called on to run the ball in Sunday’s game.

Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson both had terrific games against a pretty good secondary, each notching over 100 yards receiving.

Jackson’s 108 yards on seven receptions now puts him just 89 yards from breaking Mark Carrier’s single season yards receiving record (1,422) set in 1989. Jackson continues to show he is worth every penny of his $55.5 million salary he received this past spring in free agency.

Williams 132 yards on his seven receptions shows how much having Jackson as a teammate has helped the third-year receiver from Syracuse. Williams is also putting up a tremendous season, and now has 931 yards and eight TDs on the year.

Tiquan Underwood added one reception for 18 yards on Sunday.

The offense is certainly feeling the effect of four-out-of-five preseason starters on the line either injured or playing out of position.

On Sunday, Freeman was sacked five times and also hit twice as many times. The Rams have a talented defensive line and took advantage of the makeshift offensive line to keep Freeman uncomfortable in the pocket.

Demar Dotson has a particularly rough game giving up a sack and several pressures to Chris Long, son of Hall of Famer Howie Long.

The Buccaneers also failed to get much of a running game going finishing with just 80 yards on 22 attempts (3.6 avg.).

The Buccaneers tight ends were average on the day, not making any glaring errors, but at the same time not setting the world on fire. This is more of a result of Mike Sullivan’s offense than anything else.

Dallas Clark had his typical type four-reception, 33-yard afternoon and Luke Stocker nabbed two receptions for 16 yards.

It would have been nice to have seen the tight ends more involved in the red zone offense on Sunday, but it is hard to determine if the lack of productivity was play-calling, their ability get open or Freeman not recognizing the routes.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 December 2012 21:26

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    success at the NFL level is about dominance at the point of attack. This applies to both lines of scrimmage. If you have guys that the guy across from them knows he is going to get hit in the mouth on every play, it kind of cuts down on the guy across from them getting real creative and saves a lot of wear and tear on your QB. Nicks and Joseph are two players like that. With them the defense is trying so hard to stop the running game that you can catch em out of position and make a big play down field. Tampa Bay got rid of Doug Williams and he was Superbowl MVP with the Redskins, they got rid of Vinny Testeverde and he went on to a productive career with the Jets, they cut Trent Dilfer and he won a Super Bowl with the Ravens right here in the Ray Jay. All three of those guys were ragged on constantly when the Bucs teams were devoid of talent to aid them. There are maybe 5 QBs in the league that are guys that can put their team on their back and win tough games. By coincidence those 5 QBs are surrounded by a wealth of talent. Josh needs a productive running game to be productive. He needs to pass when he wants to and not when he has to. 54 throws a game just won't get it in the NFL. I say we need to get nasty up front. No matter what corner you draft he won't have a big impact as a rookie anyway. The Rams Courtland Finnegan was a 4th round pick. I say go for big and nasty in the early rounds. A strong pass rush can make average corners above average. Bucs opposing QBs have had way too much time to pass and Bucs QBs have had way too little. The Bucs O-line rallied and played above their heads for a few games after the losses of the 2 OGs, but late in the year teams figured if they could stop Martin and make the Bucs one dimensionable.....GAME OVER !!!! Get a free agent CB, bring Wright back, find a Canadian league CB too and draft some CBs in the 3rd and 4th round. Spend the first 2 picks on D and O linemen with bad dispositions. Maybe even trade down in rounds some and add picks. SMU's Margus Hunt plays left end with a vengence. I really like two Rutgers players in CB Ryan Logan and LB Kasheem Green. They both know Schiano's system and are both excellent players. These Gurus have the Bucs taking CB Jonathan Banks from Miss St in the first round whether we pick 9th or 20th. Why would we force a move for a CB if there were better players at a need position for the Bucs. Lay off Freeman guys. Just try and figure how this team can get better.
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    Great QBs have bad games and bad years. He' 24 and in his 3rd system with his 3rd OC. Give him a year in it. Also, he is always playing from behind because of the CBs. 2 of the INT this week were on Williams and last week 2 were on the WRs running the wrong routes. The thing that bothers me is that it is happening later in the year after some success? That leads me to believe that team's DCs caught on to the bucs ways, and now Sullivan is having to reach deeper into his playbook to compensate and the players are not ready. Next year, if everyone is relatively healthy with a year in the system, and this happens; then we know for sure.
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    Horse: That's exactly the answer I expected. Just not from someone who has been around as long as you have. At least Surferdudes threw out a name. No one disagrees that competition is a good thing. I just don't see any "sure things" out there that I'd be willing to divest myself of Freeman just because he has had two weeks with multiple interceptions when it is hard to blame him for all of them. Maybe you people haven't noticed but Freeman's draftmates Sanchez and Stafford are struggling at times as has last years darling Cam Newton. San Diego divested itself of Drew Brees and started over. How'd that work out? There are just too many examples of teams thinking the grass is greener when the problem likely isn't just the grass.
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    Scubog, I hear you and I have been wrong many times before, but at this point I have given up on Freeman. Don't get me wrong here, I really like the guy and he is trying his best; it's just no longer acceptable for me. Maybe if he took a pay cut like I have mentioned for some of the Bucs to do on other Articles, it might help me see your way. I am a performance oriented kind of guy and just refuse to reward poor performers. I actually am suggesting that we swap QB's with the Jets for Sanchez or for Romo with the Cowboys. Sometimes it does work out with a change of scenery. No matter what we are still going no where without a effective pass rush and pass defense. We still need in the early rounds to draft defensive players often.
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    It's everyones fault but Josh. Two head coaches, several coordinators. Blame the defense, blame the play calling, poor Josh is pressing. He owns 7 snakes, maybe one bit him, and now he's just snake bit. Some of you guys sound like battered wives who won't leave their husbands because some where deep inside they have some good points. Here's the truth. Josh only won 14 games in college. The knock coming out of college was he wasn't accurate. He was deemed a raw talent, but can anyone say he is showing signs of developing into an elite Q.B.? Four years of Josh, three of them losing, when is he going to turn the corner? Bring in some competition already, I'm afraid this might be as good as he gets.
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    Was it Freemans fault that Sheridans "healthy" defense gave up 41 ponts after being spotted a 3 score lead? How about the Dallas game where Sullivan called a game that included 3 straight running plays down by one score with under 2 minutes remaining in the gme? Oh yea it was probably the Redskin game where he got us the go ahead score only to have RGIII shred the then "healthy" defense on the final drive for the game winning field goal? Better yet maybe the Saints game where he passed for 420 yards scored 28 pts yet we gave up 35 points? These are 4 games that SHOULD have been won had it not been for inept coaching and awful defensive play. Its ashame that we have these unrealistic expectations of what a QB does. Freeman is pressing bc feels like he has to make every throw or else we cant win which as the evidence shows, is true. There are plenty of older QBs that have not performed better than Freeman and there is no discussion about those teams changing QBs. Some of you that say we need another QB must not have seen the Jets this season or apparently think Luck is re-entering the draft bc this "stud" prospect that you guys speak of does not exist. If we had protected leads for Freeman earlier in the year we wouldnt be in this position now. We could easily be a 10-6 team even with the awful stretch Freeman has gone through recently and then I wonder if some of you "experts" would be calling for him to exit smh. Get Real. Go Bucs! Freeman ignore these clowns as they will quickly get back on the bandwagon once they realize what the real problems are.
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    Some of us want him cut, some want competition,some want to follow him off a cliff. Scubog, I'll play G.M., and bring in A Smith to compete with him. Whether he replaces him would be up to Freeman. Remember Rich Gannon was a journeyman loser until Gruden signed him in Oakland, and he became a pro bowler. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but to not try and create some competition is doing nothing.Josh has been handed this job the last four years, he needs to earn it.
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    I love when fans claim they can call the plays before they happen when they couldn't even recite a play call. I suppose if the choices are limited to pass or run they'd get at least 50% right but nowadays 60% is the goal for completion percentage isn't it? . The only play I can reasonably predict is the punt. Hey I got that one right yesterday. I'll make one comment on Freeman. Until you can tell me who you cyber GM's are bringing in to replace him, please refrain from the "just cut him" and hope.
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    Scubog, that's an easy question to answer; anybody but Freeman.
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    scu- Most fans are "knee jerk reactionists" after a few bad games they want a new qb its hilarious to me that fans are this fickle I have sat like you and watched mediocre play at qb for yrs in the past and I am willing to see what this 24 yr old qb can do with his pro bowl guards in there with another yr in this new offense. I agree he needs to be more accurate hell A.Smith was a total bust for 8 yrs before he started playing so lets just see what his 5th yr looks like before we just say heeve ho and bring in some journeyman qb like Brady Quinn or Kyle Orton or just go back to the drawing board with a rookie qb and hope we struch gold like the Seahawks did, we have a qb who has thrwon for 4,000 yds plus and 25 td's plus stay patient and lets see if he progresses next yr if not then we move on but this guy has potential. By the way pull up Eli Mannings last 4 games and compare and you will see Freeman is not alone in his slump
  • avatar

    How do you give the WRs an A? I saw a few drops out there and Williams play (while good) contributed to 2 interceptions. Williams fell down on a play and then ran a pour route and didn't drive off his plant foot and rounded his cut allowing the CB to get in front of him and make a play on the ball. I think they had good games, but they at least deserve an A- or a B+.
  • avatar

    If Raheem Morris had not left the BUCS, and went to Kansas State in 2006 for 1 season and then came back to the Bucs, most of us would not even have heard of Josh Freeman .
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    I can see why the giants let bill sheridan go after one year on the job and what has butch Davis brought to the team, I like sullivan but I can call the plays before they happen it all seems like nothing changes from to week to week please this offseason get some players who play aggressive and plays mean we need toughness and attitude fast
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    Freeman is a keeper and should be resigned in the off season. The Bucs are a young team, very young. They started out 2012 strong with a very robust interior O-line. We lost two pro bowl quality OGs in Joseph and Nicks. We lost DE Adrian Clayborn. Talib let the team down so much that they had to move him. Wright gets a 4 game suspension for PED, so along with the loss of Talib, CB was a disaster. The 2010 draft looks bad in terms of DT Brian Price and CB Myron Lewis. The Bucs were 6-4 over their first 10 games. The 6 teams they beat had a 36.7% win ratio and only one team had a winning record (Vikings 9-6). Now after 5 straight losses the Bucs stand at 6-9. The 9 teams that beat the Bucs have a 58.9 win ratio and only 2 teams had losing records (Saints 7-8 and Eagles 4-11). Suppose we had pulled out wins in our 3 closest losses (Redskins 24-22, Falcons 24-23, Eagles 23-21). That would put us at 9-6 and in contention for the playoffs. We would be embarrassed in the playoffs with our CB and O-line deficiencies, so maybe we should count our blessings. This team is more than a few bricks shy of a load. CB is obvious, but DT and LB are also need areas, not to mention S and possibly DE depending on how recoveries are going. On offense the absense of the two OGs is as obvious as a sore thumb. We need a RT in a big way. Dotson is an adequate back up, but we need a real horse at RT. We need a young TE who can come in and learn behind Dallas Clark, while he's still with us. Benn can't stay well, so it's hard to say about his future. We need a crafty tough slot receiver in the worst way. Underwood is more of a # 1 back up, he's not physical enough for the slot. The Rams are a team that has been picking in the top half of each round in the NFL draft for the last 10 years and in the top 5 a couple of those years. They have a nasty D-line and it's going to get nastier. The Rams made their mistakes too, but they hit on some big time players like DE Chris Long, DE Robert Quinn, DT Michael Brockers, MLB James Laurinitais, DB Bradley Fletcher, QB Sam Bradford, OT Roger Saffold. TE Lance Kendricks, CB Janoris Jenkins and free agent CB Courtland Finnegan. The Rams for the most part are looking for depth on defense and some impact receivers on offense as well as maybe a RB with the Steven Jackson desire to be traded. The Bucs are still looking to upgrade their defensive and offensive starters as well as finding depth. We are a minimum of 2 years before we are a playoff quality team. I hate to say it but the higher we draft next April the better off we'll be. I would love to see us trade down if we can't get an impact player in round 1. The more help we can get from free agency the better.
  • avatar

    I don't think you sign Freeman to an extension, you gamble on next season. If he has a great year you will pay more, but too many unanswered questions still. If we hadn't seen the 5 game stretch earlier this season I would be a lot more concerned. But Freeman set the franchise record for most passing yards this season and will end up with over 4,000 this season. Yes there are glaring errors but there is no one available free agent wise worth a damn. So the ability is there. Those 5 games weren't luck.. Draft? Maybe.. It is easy to focus on what Josh does wrong because we all watch him a lot more intently than other QBs around the league. Right now (halftime) Kaepernick is 8-of-19 for 87 yards, very Freeman-like. Big Ben was 14-of-28 with two picks...Manning was also at 50% completion percentage today, Brees threw 5 picks a couple weeks ago... Could go on and on... The INTs were the difference today. If Freeman takes better care of the ball, it is a different game most likely. One thing the Bucs need to do first thing Monday morning is rip the red zone fade pass of out the playbook. What a waste of two throws. I hope we never see that play again unless Tattoo from Fantasy Island comes back as a cornerback, and then ONLY if no one else on the field is remotely open.
  • avatar

    Freeman like the rest struggled but 3 of the 4 picks were not his fault. Mike Williams fell on the comeback, then let the corner cross his face on a slant route which should never be done and then a tipped pass. What everyone should focus on is the 7th loss in a row for a team that is Quitting again. Like I have said all along WINNING changes culture nothing else. Raheem wasn't the problem and Schiano isn't the problem, players that lack mental toughness are to blame. At some point they will get defensive players that are nasty and passionate about the game. Until then this group of monks appear more interested in helping players off the ground instead of plastering them to it! Sheridan has been awful from day one, Sullivan's questionable play calling is magnified on games when Martin doesn't have huge rushing days and Schiano says all the right things but the players effort and execution don't match. Schiano better get better effort from this team or he's gonna be the final casualty of the "Schiano regime"
  • avatar

    Watched Freeman's presser, the kids shot. Like a bad act, Freeman deserves the hook. Schiano came in preaching ball security. If he doesn't bench Freeman, he'd be saying that only means the rest of the team.
  • avatar

    Mark, I disagree. You believe, the true Freeman is right between "the QB that led the entire league earlier this season in yardage and quarterback rating" and "the QB confused and lacking-confidence quarterback that threw four picks". I believe he is both. I think Freeman suffers from Football's version of bipolar disorder. In some games, he's one of the top 10 QB in the league , and other games he looks like a rookie playing in his third game. I'm starting to believe that he cannot be in-between.
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    Mark, you are too kind. I think you are being very nice because of the holiday season. Today at the game many fans came to the realization that Freeman is not the answer. I am off the bus with him and I now know that his inconsistencies will never get us back to the Super Bowl. It's time to move on without him in 2013. I am ready for anybody but Freeman.
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